Chromatin structure is regulated by chromatin remodeling factors, histone exchange, linker histone association, and histone modification. Covalent modification of histones is an important factor in the regulation of the associated processes. The implementation and removal of various histone modifications have been implicated in DNA replication, repair, recombination, and transcription, and in RNA processing. In recent years, histone methylation has emerged as one of the key modifications regulating chromatin function. However, the mechanisms involved are complex and not well understood. A large volume of structural and biochemical information has been recently amassed for the Tudor, plant homeodomain (PHD), and malignant brain tumor (MBT) protein families. This review summarizes current knowledge of the structures and modes of recognition employed by the PHD, Tudor, and MBT domains in their interactions with target histone peptides.